Commander of U.S. Central Command Kenneth McKenzie confirmed that the United States will reduce its troop presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of September, U.S. media reported on Wednesday.
The Politico reported that McKenzie said during a ceremony for Operation Inherent Resolve with the Iraqi minister of defense that the force reduction is due to “the great progress the Iraqi forces have made and in consultation and coordination with the Government of Iraq and our coalition partners.”
Currently, there are over 5,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against remnants of the Islamic State, mainly for training and advisory purposes.
During his meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi last month, U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated his intention to withdraw troops from Iraq.
As the presidential election looms, Trump has doubled down efforts to pull his country out of “endless wars.”
A senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that another announcement regarding troop reduction in Afghanistan would be issued “in the coming days.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said last month that U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to fewer than 5,000 by the end of November.
The announcement came amid the development of a delicate relationship between Trump and the military.
In Monday’s White House briefing, Trump claimed senior leaders in the Pentagon probably didn’t like him “because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
Army Chief of Staff James McConville on Tuesday defended military leaders to media outlet Defense One, saying “the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it is required in national security and a last resort.”
The news also came days after an article published in The Atlantic, quoting anonymous sources, saying that Trump disparaged slain U.S. service members by referring to them as “losers” and “suckers.” Trump and White House officials have vehemently denied the report.